Flexible laser welding lends a helping hand to automotive and press tool re-work

The AL-ARM hand held laser system from ALPHALASER enables quick and easy repairs on vehicle body-in-white defects such as: porosity, bleed-through, and offset seams. Alternatively, for press-tool applications, welding can be performed directly inside the press with the minimum of setup time.  These are just two application areas that can make use of this highly flexible tool.

The laser system comprises of a handset with automated wire feeding for wire thicknesses up to 0.6 mm. The handset weighs just 1.5 kg and is connected to the supply unit via a 3.5 m long energy chain. The laser source is a 450W fiber laser (1070nm) with both pulsed and CW operating modes, capable of delivering a welding spot size of between 0.3mm and 4.0mm at a focal distance of 120mm.

The welding process is monitored through a 3D visualisation as opposed to the traditional microscope viewing technique. This is achieved using 3D laser protection goggles, which allows the user to monitor both the environment and the welding process at the same time. The welding area view is augmented and process-relevant data, such as the cross hairs, is displayed directly to the operator.

The lightweight handset is easily manipulated, allowing the highest levels of flexibility during operation, and the welding seam width can be varied and adjusted during the welding process as required.  This combination of flexibility together with the quality and control of the laser welding process, have been the drivers for the introduction of this system within a prestige European automotive manufacturer, where it is used to make minor repairs to body-in-white panels.

The compact nature of this system also makes it possible to undertake repairs to mould tools, whilst they are still installed within the press. This saves the significant amount of time normally required to remove, and then replace the tools following repair. Great emphasis has also been placed on safety for this system. Integrated work-piece detection ensures that the laser and the welding process can only be activated when the handset is touching the work-piece, preventing uncontrolled laser radiation emissions. This safety concept has been verified by TÜV for compliance with the highest levels of safety requirements.

This highly flexible hand held laser welding system is now available from Bromsgrove based TLM Laser, ALPHALASER’s UK and Ireland distributors, complementing the comprehensive range of laser based technologies and systems offered by the company.

Automation Update